Posted by Alexander Rennie.
Reviewed on 13th October 2008.
Live at O2 Academy Leeds on Wednesday, 8th October 2008
Fresh from having the accolade of 'Best Live Act 2008' bestowed upon them by no less august an institution than Q magazine, the Kaiser Chiefs arrive this evening - not only to kick off their autumn tour, but to christen their hometown's newest venue. The smartly refurbished auditorium receives admiring looks from the gathering cast of local luminaries up in the balcony. Meanwhile the kids downstairs are treated to a run through from the band who will be able to boast in years to come that they were actually first to play this new stage; The Hair.
The Hair's fusion of danceable funk with occasional Kasabian-like swagger is reminiscent of those other local lads, The Sunshine Underground. Former singles 'Half Cut' and 'Disco/Retro' do a decent job of livening the place up before the Red Light Company assume the baton. Unfortunately Red Light Company suffer heavily - to your reviewer, at least - from not being the originally-billed Late of the Pier. Whilst this in itself is not yet a capital offence, looking like Hanson probably should be. As far as sound is concerned, though, they can't seem to decide whether they're aiming for the portentousness of the Kings of Leon or the relentless chirpiness of the Polyphonic Spree. The resulting middle ground is slightly confused, if not devoid of melody. It manages to get the Deputy Lord Mayor's chain a-jangling up in the Royal Box, though; what he'd have made of LotP is anyone's guess.
The punters now surge back from the bar to hail the Chiefs as they take to the stage to the familiar strains of 'Money for Nothing'. The fact that the band still use this cheesy yet anthemic nugget says a lot about how crowd pleasing remains a central to their operation. Say what you will about any perceived lack of depth or originality in their music, but it does make for great theatre. And the audience never fail to lap it up. On top of this, of course, they've a new long player to promote. Tonight's set is thus a mixture of old favourites from an ever-extending back catalogue and several numbers getting an early live outing. The band have the confidence to kick off with three of the latter. 'Spanish Metal' cunningly namechecks their home county in the final stanza, which gets the inevitable 'Yorkshire! Yorkshire!' chants going. This becomes a full-blown crowd riot for latest single 'Never Miss a Beat'.
'Like It Too Much' is a bit of a plodder, but the judicious insertion of 'Every Day I Love You Less and Less' stops the show from stalling - not least because the drainpipe-and-trainer clad Ricky Wilson takes this opportunity to commune with his adoring public out on the floor. A further brace of newies follow in the shape of 'Can't Say What I Mean' and 'You Want History'. Whilst the frontman busies himself with a cowbell during the latter, Nick and Peanut manoeuvre the band through a raucous shakedown. 'Modern Way' and 'You Can Have It All' are subsequently greeted like the old friends that they have become. This being the closest they have to a soppy interlude, hands are raised aloft and sway in unison. Once breath has been drawn, however, it's quickly taken away by the inevitably raucous response to 'Ruby'.
'Half the Truth' and 'Good Days and Bad Days' are singalongs-in-waiting, the second marrying an even-paced new wave groove with ever-so-slightly brainless terrace chanting. The appropriate dedication to Leeds United goes down well with the locals. From here on in, however, it's old favourites all the way. 'Everything is Average Nowadays' and long-time live attraction 'Take My Temperature' bring things towards their conclusion in typically boisterous fashion. And veteran Kaiser-watchers will not be at all surprised to learn that the main set is rounded off with an extended rendition with 'Oh My God', this time accompanied by an impressive light show and most of the audience joining in on backing vocals.
Of course, an encore is inevitable after all of this. If you're not feeling the love in what passes (for these guys) as an 'intimate' gig, heavily packed with family and friends, then something's going wrong. There's no chance of that here, of course, and the waves of adulation breaking over the stage are rewarded with a prompt return and a triumphant run-through of 'The Angry Mob'. After two years of trying, fans have just about got to grips with the call-and-response on this one and it goes down a treat. What could possibly come next, one wonders? 2,300 people probably predicted 'I Predict a Riot', and every man jack of them would've been right. Up in the balcony the plush seating has been rendered entirely redundant. The security guards have long since given up on trying to get Emmerdale cast members and TV weathermen to park their backsides. I may have been confused by the strobes, but I fancy that one of these normally surly blighters was even singing along.
alternative indie rock